Breathless : Sandals Foundation

Breathless. 

In awe.

Astounded.

Bursting with some strange combination of heartache and joy that I had never felt before. 

This is how I would begin to describe the incredible day my girls and I had when we embarked on our journey with Beaches Resorts and the Sandals Foundation.  Our destination; the Mount Airy School in the Mocho Mountains of Clarendon Parish in Jamaica. 

Our group of writers, photographers, bloggers and children rolled up in our air conditioned vans, unloaded into the heat, and made the short walk across the hot dusty yard towards the school house.  These little people were waiting for us, just peeking out through their large classroom door. IMG_1058 Everything they were feeling was written all over their beautiful faces.  They were bursting with anticipation, waiting for their Christmas party to begin.  What they couldn’t possibly know?  Their guests for the day, the BeachesMoms, were equally giddy with anticipation and excitement.  We dropped off the gifts we had carried with us from Canada, and waited for the celebration of the day to begin. 

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As the children filed out of the school, I snuck in and took a peek. 

The rules of their school, not so different from home.IMG_1065

Their classrooms, clearly worlds apart from ours. 

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My girls and I had the extreme pleasure of lending a hand during the festivities.   Pouring juices, and handing out cake and drinks to the patiently waiting crowd.  IMG_1070

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We listened and clapped along to the performances of drummers, singers and spirited dancers.  I was left with a smile, goose bumps and a couple of tears.  So much sweetness, so much heart!  It continues to amaze me that no matter where you go, children everywhere are the same.

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IMG_1086Everyone was truly having an incredible time, and this dancer giving it her all in her socked feet, she was a show stopper!  IMG_1080

My heart melted a little more with each and every smile. 

Soon it was time for Santa to arrive, along with a few more special guests!

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I watched, holding my breath, wondering which children would receive the gifts we had brought from Canada.  Suddenly wishing we had filled more then one small suitcase with presents.  Desperately wishing I had thought to pack a bag of gifts for the teachers and Principal of this small but mighty school.

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One of our gifts went to this little darling in the blue dress.  A girl, who’s friends were quick to tell me, had Autism but they were looking out for her.  They were her best friends; my heart.  I left a little bit of my heart with her and with Jamaica that day.  I knew then this is where I was supposed to be and what I was supposed to be doing.  Paying it forward with my own children in a very small way, spreading the word that we can make a difference in the lives of others with small gestures of kindness, love and donations.  The Sandals Foundation is truly doing incredible things for their community.  I urge you all to visit their site, see what they are doing, and help if you can. 

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This was an experience neither myself nor my girls will ever forget.  IMG_1120

This is the joy of paying it forward.

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These are the faces that made me want to find a way to do more.

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Learn more about the incredible things happening by visiting the Sandals Foundation website at www.sandalsfoundation.org, or following along on Facebook and Twitter @SandalsFdn  A heart felt thank you to Beaches Resorts and Sandals Foundation for making this visit possible for me and my family.



Comments

  1. Oh mama, what an incredible experience for you and those dear, dear children. Love that Sandals and Beaches is doing this!

    • Stephanie says:

      It was an experience of a lifetime! I adore that Sandals and Beaches give back to their communities, it makes me want to travel to their resorts even more!

  2. Melinda L. says:

    oh my goodness. The smiles on the faces of the children are so precious and priceless. Such a wonderful foundation for doing all this. Thank you for sharing your wonderful experience with us.

    • Stephanie says:

      The smiles were contagious! So true and beautiful! Thanks for reading along, I loved sharing about our experience!

  3. They truly are beautiful and this is a truly beautiful cause!

    • Stephanie says:

      It was a Christmas celebration that I will never forget! Already wondering how I can pay it forward next year 🙂

  4. It’s wonderful that your kids could come with you to do this. A great example to them of giving back.

    • Stephanie says:

      It was such an amazing opportunity for my girls to really pay it forward in a concrete way. We’ve done penny drives, collected coats and school supplies but purchasing gifts and taking them to the Sandals Foundation event really hit home.

  5. but what if i want to climb the trees? :'(

  6. Amy Heffernan says:

    What a wonderful cause!!!

  7. seham merzib says:

    love it!

  8. Paying it forward…what an awesome lesson you taught your kids 🙂

  9. Claudette Lariviere says:

    A very touching and heart warming experience, for you and your family, god bless you for your kindness.

    • Stephanie says:

      Thank you! Attending the Sandals Foundation event is one of those days we will never forget. I felt very blessed to be able to attend.

  10. Karen HIll says:

    I couldn’t help tearing up while reading this and seeing the complete joy on their faces.

    • Stephanie says:

      Joy. I loved the look of joy on those faces!! I know they say tis better to give then receive, well there is no truer example of that then this Sandals Event. It was a joy for the BeachesMoms too!

  11. Jane Hammill Gray says:

    What a lovely heartwarming post! So inspirational many thanks

  12. Anne Taylor says:

    What an amazing experience for your daughters! Brilliant and inspiring! Thanks

    • Stephanie says:

      I will be forever grateful not only that I had the opportunity to attend, but that I was able to take my girls. Thanks for reading along!

  13. Judy C (Judy Cowan) says:

    Love that Sandals and Beaches are doing this. Paying it forward it so great. Thanks for sharing the experience and photos with us. Those are genuine smiles and those little faces!

    • Stephanie says:

      Don’t you just love the joy beaming from those faces!! It was such a joy to pay it forward and was so blessed to be able to take my girls along on the adventure. The Sandals Foundation is truly doing amazing things.

  14. This post does my heart good. What a joy it is to see their beaming faces, and much respect to Beaches for organizing this amazing event! Kudos to the Sandals Foundation, and thank you for sharing!

  15. Billie-Lyn Devine says:

    wow , this post and pics brought tears of joy to my eyes, I wish there was more people like you in this world!! *sniffles* Thank you, and much love. xo

    • Stephanie says:

      Truly, the pleasure was all mine! It was such a blessing to be able to meet these incredible children and pay it forward in a very small way. I hope to be able to return some day!

  16. Looks like an incredible place, must make a lot of difference for the kids

    • Stephanie says:

      I really do think this school and foundation make a huge difference in the lives of these children. We drove through some fairly impoverished areas before we reached this bright, happy school. It was amazing!

  17. They are so beautiful! It must of made you so happy inside to be able to give a hand! Thanks for sharing!

    • Stephanie says:

      It has been just over a month now and am still glowing from the experience. I long to go back and pay it forward in a bigger way! Thanks for stopping by today 🙂

  18. Thanks for sharing!!

  19. GREAT BLOG

  20. wow thoughtful of you

  21. Lynda Cook says:

    What an amazing experience, kudos for Sandals and Beaches for doing this. When my daughters were in grade school we did the christmas shoe boxes full of goodies to send

    • Stephanie says:

      I remember those shoe boxes! I believe some school still do those!
      Now that I know how much Sandals and Beaches gives back to their community, it definitely puts their resorts a notch higher when I am picking places to visit with my family. They are making a huge difference in their communities.

  22. Christine Topley says:

    Loves seeing and hearing about things such as this. Way to go Sandals and Beaches for giving back.! I would love to be involved in doing good deeds such as these but unable to travel so I do it in my own special little ways.

    • Stephanie says:

      I firmly believe that every little bit helps! We were honoured to be a guest of Sandals Foundation and pay it forward, but I also instill in my girls that even the penny drives at school, donating used clothing, can drives, every little bit of good you put forward it the world helps!

  23. THIS IS AMAZING …. YOU ARE TRUE ANGLES ON EARTH MAKING A DIFFERENCE. MY DAUGHTER WENT TO PORTUE RICO ON A MISSIONS TRIP TO HELP A COMUNITY ITS SUCH A BREATH OF FRESH AIR TO SEE THE YOUTH TAKING PART IN HELPING THE PLANET BE A BETTER PLACE!!!!!

    • Stephanie says:

      The very best part of this experience was having my girls with me. No matter how much you try and teach them that they are lucky and blessed, I don’t think it can truly hit home until they see if for themselves. My girls are 14 and 12 and will never ever forget this trip.
      Thank you for your kind words!

  24. Anne White says:

    That trip looks amazing!!! I imagine it must have done just as much for your heart and soul as it did for the kids you were there visiting!!! 🙂 Thank goodness for people like your girls and yourself who take time out to truly be there for others, its a beautiful thing!!!

    • Stephanie says:

      It was only a day out of our lives but I hope it changed a little something in the outlook of the world for my children. They now really know how blessed they are and that they can make a difference. The people of the Sandals Foundation and Beaches Resorts are amazing, they do so much for their communities and we were just blessed to be guests for the day! 🙂

  25. That is an experience of a lifetime! Kudos to Sandals for doing this!

  26. I watched you all on instagram and loved each picture. These shots of the children are priceless, Stephanie. Loved reading this and seeing that sandals gives back. That’s something every company and brand should strive to do.

    • Stephanie says:

      Thank you so much for following along on Instagram! The children were amazing and I adored that we had time to really chat with a few, and my girls got to get in there and help. I adore that Sandals and Beaches is a company that really does give back to their community, it makes you want to hop on a plane to one of their resorts doesn’t? “)

  27. this looks so amazing. thanks for the great read.

  28. Susan Smith says:

    What a fantastic cause and it’s wonderful that your kids could come with you to do this. It’s a great example to them of giving back

  29. Victoria Ess says:

    What a great experience and I’m so happy you shared it!

  30. fun, fun, fun. what a way to get involved.

  31. Amazing pictures! Thanks for sharing!!!

  32. Those school outfits are pretty cute

  33. Karen HIll says:

    What a great experience for your kids!

  34. Cheryl Grandy says:

    What a wonderful experience for you and your children. It’s good to see that others do not have the luxuries we do and to be able to participate in giving to them. Thank you for sharing your experience with us.

  35. What an amazing experience. I can only imagine how good it felt to have brought gifts and saw how happy it made the children.

  36. Rhonda W G. says:

    Love these photos…They capture the joy! To be part of that must have been amazing.

  37. Patricia MacLeod says:

    Great experince.

  38. seham merzib says:

    awesome!

  39. It is always nice to hear the good work being done in communities. Thank you for sharing your experience – it touched my heart.

  40. Erinn Lishman says:

    Such an inspirational story! Thank you for sharing!

  41. BobbiJo Pentney says:

    Wow, I love seeing the smiles.

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